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White Bays and Cephalopods and Coming Back Better.

Wednesday, December 7th

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We left White Bay, Guana, first thing in the morning. Feeling recharged from some great swims and delicious meals, we decided to head south to find our next anchorage and swim. Salt Bay was sloppy. The wreck of the Rhone was choppy. Ahead lay our old standby, Peter Island. We tucked into Great Harbor, which had very few boats in it. December trips can be like that, there are fewer people everywhere: airports, hotels, roads, harbors.

The wildlife tends to be robust in here, so swimming near Heather, our marine naturalist, often reaps rewards. A giant barracuda hung around under Promenade all day. Some southern sting rays, schools of blue tang, sergeant majors, and blue chromis were abundant. Representing the invertebrate world, we had Flamingo tongues, feather duster worms (two kinds!) and an unidentified large polychaete worm on the reef, not to mention a small school of squid. Peggy, Karen, and I built into a nice pace, circling the harbor and finishing with a deep water crossing back to Promenade. After the swim, Heather donned her SCUBA gear and took stroke video for the remaining guests.

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There are a lot of White Bays in the BVIs. My guess is that they were named for the white sand beaches visible to early explorers from offshore. Any other guesses are welcome in the comment section of this blog.

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The White Bay we found ourselves in this time was on Peter Island’s south side. We were all alone: bare boaters tend to avoid this place due to the sandy anchorage, which is tricky for novice sailors. We plotted a swim along shore, taking lots of time to explore a coral garden that we’ve noticed has been blossoming over the past few years. Greg somehow spotted an octopus, perfectly camouflaged in texture and color, filling a hole in a rock. When we got too close, he’d retreat into the rock, leaving only his eyes sticking up, measuring us. I could have hung out with him all evening, except I had a buoy turn clinic to do.

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In open water swimming races, most competitors make a wide, awkward turn around the buoys that mark the course. I teach a quick roll-over turn, developed from a water polo move, that cleans and speeds things up considerably. Tenley and Art picked up on it right away. Heather took some group photos, and we all hopped back onto Promenade for some Banana split cocktails and a beautiful sunset. Baked Mahi was served for dinner, then homemade ice cream appeared.

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Our motto and tagline Come Back Better has many meanings. Some are intangible, like learning to give over to the ocean, to surrender to the conditions you can’t control. Others are tangible things, like learning a more efficient crawl stroke. Tonight we all gathered in the salon to watch the stroke videos Heather has taken throughout the week and to hear about stroke philosophy and technique from guide Will. His swimming and coaching resume is impressive, but even better is his tenacious curiosity, he’s always staying up-to-date on the latest swimming techniques. As we view each video, sometimes in slow motion and in reverse, Will gives each guest 2 or 3 major points to work on.  I’ve taken advantage of these sessions myself, and my own stroke has improved nicely over the years. It’s great to watch the big stroke improvements in our guests as we finish up our week with some longer swims.

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Tomorrow we’re planning on doing a major channel crossing, from Peter to Norman Island. We talked with the group about it this evening, and I think more than one second drink was skipped after hearing of our plan. We’ll let you know how it went tomorrow. Wish us luck!

-Hopper

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